@holytispon we have not. I have played a lot of the blue side vs @YoungBuck though, and became very fascinated with it as it was hard to believe it could be so lopsided, and I felt like I must be missing some approach to blue.
To reflect on the series, I’m a little bummed Black won all the P2 games, as @Nekoatl really pressed me in the warm-up games and had me believing perhaps we could find a more balanced center to this matchup. It really just feels unfair that despite making good reads and playing for good trades, it still feels like Blue also needs exceptional draw luck to win. Like Black can take risks, have them not pay off, and still play a pretty straight up tech 2 game without much punishment. It bothers me.
I really hunger for insight into the design process that lead to these two colors being boxed together, as I feel like some tweak must have happened late in balancing that tipped the scales so heavily in black’s favor (both in this matchup and in the game overall; Black is exceptionally strong). I want to see how the playtests of this matchup went, and if we’re really still missing something or if the Black players in playtest weren’t as aggressive or what it was that happened.
Rants aside though, great games @Nekoatl! I really appreciate you taking on this tall task of a matchup with such a good attitude and creative play. I enjoyed puzzling through the interesting new twists you threw at me, and hope we get to play some other matchups in the future
I have not tried this matchup from the Black side, yet, but I find myself in complete agreement with FrozenStorm’s impression after this series. As Blue, once a draw goes bad, it often feels impossible to recover from, as Black tends to just snowball in terms of board advantage. Even when Blue is ahead, Black has such a variety of sudden twists it can throw that Blue has to guard against to avoid getting steamrolled. If Blue can get established, it has a lot of tools that can completely control the match, but actually getting to that point seems to often be impossible even with perfect play, due to the luck of the draw (not that I’m claiming to be perfect… just that one bad draw can completely derail a seemingly otherwise solid win to the point where it doesn’t appear to be recoverable, regardless of further luck or strategy).
I’m also disappointed by the result, as I would prefer that the game actually be balanced and that we all simply haven’t figured out how, but it’s hard to think that’s the case based on what we’ve seen so far. I do have to admit to the possibility that there might be something we missed, as we didn’t exhaustively try every card. Actually, I’m pretty sure I never spec’d into Law even once, because it didn’t look to me like it could deal with the challenges being thrown my way, but I can’t say for sure that wasn’t an error in judgment. It would be interesting to watch @FrozenStorm and @Sirlin have a go sometime with Sirlin as Blue.
Personally, I enjoy trying to overcome difficult challenges, and I’m probably a lot more stubborn than most (at least, that’s what people keep telling me), so I very much appreciate your patience, FrozenStorm. To be perfectly honest, though, even I got discouraged on occasion during some of those P2 Blue games. I enjoy looking for creative solutions to difficult problems, but after a while it became a challenge to simply hold at bay the idea that there just were no solutions. Still, I’m very glad we did this, and I did genuinely enjoy many, if not most, of the games we played. You were a great opponent, and I look forward to playing you again.
Now that you’ve finished this series, @FrozenStorm and @Nekoatl, do you have any thoughts on what balance changes might improve this matchup? Obviously there won’t be any official balance changes to Codex for a long time (I doubt it’ll happen until they can be tested on an official online version of the game, and who knows if that’ll ever get made), but in an ideal world what would you change about either Blue or Black (or both) to make it less lopsided? I have some thoughts on it, but you two would be more qualified than me by far (since I’ve never played either color and you’ve just done 10 games in a row without counting the warmups), so I’ll hold off on saying anything for now.
Blue is pretty okay in other matchups, and Black is strong in most other matchups, so I think I’d make a slight nerf to Black. Garth is the strongest in the game overall, and Vandy is particularly problematic in this matchup, so they’d be likely who I go after.
Garth mid/maxing at 5/8 might help
Vandy not being allowed to fetch her Ulti
Dark Pact costing 1g would still be a very good card
Bone Collector could maybe cost 3 and still be pretty good? Less sure about that
Vandy doesn’t need Resist 1 on midband, it wouldn’t help this matchup though
If you’re modifying Blue, I’d target the starting deck and spells / tech 1 units:
Musketeer could probably have 3hp or haste
Tax Collector could be a 2/4 or 3/3 probably
Jurisdiction could maybe cost 1 instead of 2
Mirror Illusions feel like they could be 1/1 or 0/2 instead of 0/1 and still be fine
Quince could perhaps replace Dreamscape / Hallucination with something that makes illusions un-poppable for a turn (stopgap until Macciatus, makes Hounds and Flagbearer a little more useable especially in this matchup, black has such cheap / convenient targeting)
I’m spitballing here, so take it with a grain of salt
Since I’ve been considering this particular change for a while, I have to mention that changing this card’s cost would make it and Deteriorate no longer blocked by Newsman at the same time unless you change both of them. I think changing both would probably be fine, but it’s something to consider.
As for the rest, I’m not going to comment on specifics until @Nekoatl chimes in, but I agree that Black is more in need of change than Blue.
If buffing Blue, there are the 5 things I’d try, in this order:
Redesign Lawful Search to be a $0 upgrade with “(1), Sacrifice Lawful Search to draw a card, then choose one: Look at an opponent’s hand. Look at an opponent’s discard pile.” and “When Lawful Search leaves play, draw a card.” This would give Blue a 50% chance of being able to determine if a hero can safely be played on turn 2 and would generally help Blue’s consistency at being able to detect and respond to threats, especially when choosing a gold value to block with Newsman.
Reduce Jurisdiction to $1 and/or add “you may either discard the spell or return it to your codex.” While the idea of being able to play Free Speech with Bigby when Quince is unavailable seems solid in theory, the $2 increase is a burden that Blue can seldom afford, and being limited to spells still in the codex is beyond awkward.
Make Boot Camp able to target Onimaru. Blue has no other way of removing -1/-1 runes from Onimaru than to let him die, and he’s very expensive to level up.
Make at least one spell, probably Judgment Day, able to affect tech III units. As it stands, Blue’s answer to tech III threats is through prevention, but it’s not competitive enough in the early and mid game to be able to do so without falling behind. Having an effective board clear would give Blue a chance to make a comeback if it loses the race to tech III.
Change Stash to read “You can set aside a card during the draw/discard step. If you do, draw 1 less card and add the stashed card to your hand during your next upkeep.” This is solely to protect the stashed card against forced discard.
I disagree with FrozenStorm’s suggestion of replacing Dreamscape or Hallucination. I think they’re both important parts of Sirus’s kit, even though I never managed to use them successfully here. Also, tech I illusions are dirt cheap, so I think it’s fair that they’re easy to dispel. Spectral Aven and Mirror Illusions are a different story, as losing one to Deteriorate is a $2 swing in Black’s favor at a time when Blue is desperate for gold, but I hesitate to buff the Aven because early flying is powerful. Maybe Sirus could create Mirror Illusions for $1 instead of $2, but I’m not sure that would be fair considering their potential power. Maybe if using his other abilities to transform them cost $1 also, it would balance out.
If nerfing Black, I think Vandy is the biggest offender. It’s the combination of her ability to efficiently ramp up her stats and Deteriorate/Sacrifice’s ability to clear patrollers that makes playing a blue hero on turn 2 so dangerous. That, in turn, increases Blue’s reliance on card plays which, in the face of Blacks’ multiple discard options, makes it easy for turn 1 Black to completely suppress Blue. I’m not sure what the best way to nerf her would be, but the first thing I’d try would be to make her level at 1-3/4-5/6 to slow down that initial rush.
Thanks, both of you! It’s interesting to see how the different perspectives you two had over these games infom your balance suggestions.
Alright, let’s see how things look if we organise your suggestions by spec (I’ll add some thoughts of my own as well):
Neither of you directly suggested any changes to the Black starter deck, but…
The idea of making Mirror Illusions cost $1 to summon and $1 to transform is a good one, but it doesn’t help Aven and it’s a bit inelegant. Instead, if Deteriorate cost $1 to play it would require more from Black than a single card that they can easily get back with Dark Pact (which also costs $0 in the retail game… ) or Garth’s midband, it would be a bit safer for Blue to play heroes early game, and it would make the gold deficit if an illusion is popped not quite as bad (for that matter, sometimes an illusion could actually survive a turn where Black has Deteriorate if money is tight).
I’ll start by reiterating that if either Deteriorate or Dark Pact were to have their price changed, they need to match each other so Reputable Newsman doesn’t have an even harder time covering what he needs to. I’m of the opinion that both should cost $1, simply because that elegantly fixes quite a few problems.
I think the various Vandy changes are good, and I’m definitely in favor of removing Resist 1 from her midband (I still don’t know why it’s even there, and EricF had suggested it when he was still around). I like only fetching non-ultimate spells with her midband, since that means there’s a bit more setup required to get Metamorphosis working. Making it cost $1 more to get to midband seems good too to reduce the early pressure. I have this vague feeling that all three changes at once is too much, but I’m not sure why… None of them is that big, and they alter the balance of different things. I’d be interested in seeing a version of Vandy tested with all of them to see how it feels.
…Also, neither of you think anything aside from Vandy and/or her spells needs adjusted in Demonology. Makes sense, she’d definitely the most terrifying part of the spec!
(Obviously a joke, but we all seem to agree that Disease is not part of the balance problem.)
The Garth change is probably good. I don’t know if Bone Collector would still be worth using over Hooded Executioner or either of the Disease Tech I units if it were priced at $3, but I’m unqualified to talk about that… I will say that it might be worth testing, if only to let those others see more use.
One thing I’d considered for Garth is making his midband ability cost both a Skeleton and $1 to draw, but that might be unnecessary with the level adjustments. The idea came from my belief that Black makes it unusually easy to spring back from a card deficit. Thoughts?
Starting with the smaller of these two, Musketeer costs $2, right? The only $2 starting deck unit with 3 HP is Fading Argo, and the Fading part is the justification for that. I guess having 1 ATK to start with might be enough to balance it out, even with Long Range? Both ways should probably be tested, since it does need some kind of boost (are there any matchups where it’s not an auto-worker?)
My objection to Lawful Search as an upgrade is that it feels so clunky. Other upgrades do something passively while they’re in play, whereas this one would do nothing until you’ve paid the cost for its ability… Which sacrifices it. It’s about as opposite the flavor of an Upgrade as possible. Might I suggest instead that it remain a spell, but have a bit of text on it similar to the part of Judgement Day and Rewind that lets you play them without meeting the normal requirements for ultimate spells? Something like “This can be cast by an Administrator or Guard unit (instead of a Hero)” would allow you to use it to see if it’s safe to summon a Hero, it works with three units in the starting deck and four Law Tech units, and it’s better flavor-wise since there needs to be someone there to do the Lawful Searching, right? I decided against letting Soldiers cast it so that it doesn’t benefit [Purple]/Peace/X beyond the starter deck, since that’s a good enough combo as-is.
Both of you say Jurisdiction should cost $1, huh? That says something!
In all honesty, all of these changes seem reasonable. Law is probably the weakest of the Blue specs, so this wouldn’t suddenly break the balance of multi-color like buffs to some other specs involved here might.
I think this might be a bad idea… Yes, it’s bad that there’s no way to remove -1/-1 runes from Onimaru, but consider two points:
I believe the general consensus is that replacing Disease with Finesse not only makes it stronger, but arguably makes it the strongest codex in the game. Doing that removes all sources of -1/-1 runes except for Poisonblade Rogue, who can only inflict them by attacking and has 1 HP. This is the one of the few ways pure Black has an advantage over PtW.dec, and the lack of those runes without Disease segues into…
In any matchup without access to -1/-1 runes, this would allow Onimaru to potentially grow too big to deal with, especially with The Art of War. With swift strike, readiness and unstoppable, anything that doesn’t have hard hero removal just dies if he can get big enough.
Basically, it would help against out-of-the-box mono-Black, but I’m afraid it would be too strong outside of that matchup. Boot Camp is already a very strong spell in a very strong spec, so making it better seems like a bad idea.
Yeah, replacing Hallucination and/or Dreamscape goes a bit far for a balance change, so I’d prefer to leave them alone. With the change to Deteriorate I suggested, there should be less need to change the pricing of the Mirrors. I’m not a fan of the Mirror tokens having 2 HP or 1 ATK in their base form simply because it’s bad flavor; they’re meant to be fairly useless until they’ve been transformed. Then again, considering that Garth can summon a stronger token for only 1 gold, maybe having it be $1 to summon and $1 to transform would be better? It does make it much easier to use them as chump blockers, though… Testing would be good.
tl;dr: Most of these ideas are good, I don’t know how many of them are necessary or how it would work out if several were implemented at once, but I want to test them out! Also that took most of four hours to format and add my own thoughts, wow.
@FrozenStorm, I’ve never played mono-blue and I doubt I’d reach Nekoatl’s level of skill with it (not my usual style), but if you’re willing to help me figure out how it works I’d be happy to test some of these with you!
Making Lawful Search a spell that can be cast by units feels more against that spirit of spells than converting Lawful Search into an upgrade feels against the spirit of upgrades to me. It’s true there are units that can cast spells, but IIRC they are all tech III and specifically designed to be spellcasters. It’s not completely out of left field, but it feels like a stretch to me.
More practically, doing that would only address one of the 2 goals of my proposed Lawful Search change: the ability to play it before committing to a hero play (edit: and not very effectively, as the $1 or $3 cost to play an Administrator would hamper the ability to afford a hero on turn 2.). Blue also has a consistency problem, where it needs to rely on being able to get information and/or force a card draw on a specific turn in order to remain stable, and making Lawful Search an upgrade is largely intended to facilitate that by allowing it to be floated to a future turn by sitting in play until needed. As it stands now, often when Blue desperately needs to know what Black is holding, Lawful Search is unhelpfully sitting in the deck or discard pile.
I have no firm opinions on the effect of changes on this match-up, but there are externalities: in my experience, playing Purple vs. Blue, Lawful Search is an extremely oppressive card to play against because I have very few options as purple and the fact Blue can consistently scout them is already pretty oppressive. The problem may just be that I’m not a good enough player, and I’m not suggesting that the Purple-Blue matchup is as lopsided as the Black-Blue matchup is, but I do think it’s a pretty difficult one for Purple and making Lawful Search more consistent would make it harder.
I think the Dark Pact comment is right on. On his podcast episode on balance Sirlin talked about the way they balanced Scribe by describing how they’ve asked a series of questions such as ‘would you still play it if your opponent gets 1g when you cast it’ and then ‘how about 2g’ etc. With Dark Pact it seems clearly worth it even if it was more expensive, and it’s good late game to damage an opponent’s base.
Wow, I was just re-listening to that episode last night! You’re right, this seems exactly like the Scribe situation, where at least part of the underlying problem is that Black can use Dark Pact (and Garth’s midband ability to a lesser extent) to get card advantage and people aren’t quite seeing that as the problem. That’s why I personally want so much to test how Black feels with Deteriorate and Dark Pact costing $1, among other changes, just to see if slowing it down a bit would help.
Thinking of that balance episode I wonder if part of the problem is that they’ve debuffed blue so much. They talk about scribe being overpowered- and it probably was - but they nerfed it so much that blue doesn’t really have many ways to get card advantage. Stash and lawful search are nice but the Law spec brings very little to the table aside than that.
I actually really like the flavor of letting guards/administrators perform lawful searches, though I don’t see guards performing searches (particularly not guardians at gates that are stuck in place…although…maybe it’s like at Disneyland where they search your purse/backpack?).
Regarding Hallucination and Dreamscape:
Can anyone point me to a game where these have been played?
Can anyone point me to a game where these have been useful?
Does anyone think they aren’t a bit redundant?
It seems to me that if you’re running a dedicated Illusion build (Macciatus, Reteller, some cheapies at Tech I and Tech II), then you don’t have the room for spells that also make the opponent’s units illusions. I could see it in a HH build where Quince turns the enemies into illusions and Oni/Drill Sergeant pokes them with Boot Camp, but I’ve never seen that style played, and I suspect that pure removal without units of your own, dependent on having two heroes and their spells out in the same turn would be inconsistent and lacking in defense.
And I’ll reiterate that, while it wouldn’t affect this match-up (where the real problem is early game):
4) Arresting Constable is straight-up useless, even in Free-for-All.
5) Debilitator Alpha is overcosted; I could see Air Hammer and Spy getting play (though rare when Peace Engine is so much more efficient), but Alpha can just be taken out by heroes/spells. If he was cheaper, or affected heroes, too, or if his effect was a permanent weakening to the attacker, then he might be worthwhile. (Of course, if he affected heroes, then his ability would be simpler as just +1 HP instead of -1 ATK.) Heck, some resist might help, and would be in theme for a robot.
6) Guardian of the Gates could also use some answers to evasion/removal: resist and anti-air would not go amiss. Here’s a video of GotG dealing with evasion. (He’s the guy on the right. The guy on the left is an Arresting Constable.)
I ask myself the same questions, and thus is why I suggested replacing one of them. I’ve only ever used them for lulz in a peace machine that was already going to win anyway. I honestly think Dreamscape could reduce cost by 1 and you could replace Hallucination with something more helpful (perhaps specifically targeted at the Black matchup). Making things illusions HELPS Black, with all its super-cheap targeting!
I used to think Hallucination and Dreamscape were redundant, but I don’t anymore. Dreamscape has the advantages of affecting many units and providing a persistent effect over multiple turns, the disadvantage of being vulnerable to removal (especially Nature Reclaims), and the double-edged sword of turning your own units into Illusions, which can be either very good or very bad depending on what tech II-III Truth cards you have in play. Hallucination has the advantage of being able to target and dispel illusions in cases where other targeting is unavailable. In theory, Sirus with 1x Dreamscape and 2x Hallucination could remove 4 tech II units per turn for $4 and 2 cards, which is really good in terms of value. There are, of course, more efficient ways of targeting Illusions in other factions, but I think it’s important that Truth have a means of doing so without relying on another faction.
I threw in the Guards to give a couple Law units more use, especially since something like Arresting Constable seems more likely to do a Lawful Search than an Insurance Agent (who can’t be excluded from being able to cast it without either special-casing him out or denying all of the starting deck units that have the same unit type). Guard only adds two units, though, so it can be removed easily enough. Glad you like the flavor!
Not getting into this beyond saying that replacing them would overstep the boundaries I’ve set for myself.
I agree that all those cards need adjustment, but the problem with the Black matchup is definitely higher priority for now. Some good ideas, though!
I just listened back to that episode now as well. Interesting to see how far the game has come. I think Scribe could have kept his “Attacks: Draw a card” as the 1/3 that he is, or stayed a 2/3 with his current arrives-only trigger, and probably ended up okay.
I agree. Combined with the fact Justice juggernaut was also nerfed, it seems like law was hit hard near the end. It’s supposed to be a spec that gives you card advantage which is huge but it’s one of the least played specs in my experience.